Switzerland stars in doubles for O’Shea & Seemar at a rainy Meydan

Racing at Meydan on Saturday, the first UAE meeting of 2022, was highlighted by the Listed Garhoud Sprint which was basically turned into a procession by Switzerland, completing doubles on the card for jockey Tadhg O’Shea and trainer Bhupat Seemar.

Over 1200m on dirt, the surface on which the whole card was staged due to issues with the turf track caused by inclement weather, it was contested by a select sextet but, having raced in the rear, O’Shea took aim at the other five leaving the home turn and found a willing partner. They hit the front with about 300m remaining and with the prize in safekeeping.

The 8yo Speightsown gelding is owned by RRR Racing as is well beaten runner-up Gladiator King, also trained by Seemar. It was a seventh career success for Switzerland and first since last year’s winning seasonal debut, over this 1200m dirt course and distance, in the Group 3 Dubawi Stakes. That was in January and he ran just twice more last season.

Seemar said: “That was very pleasing and we hoped for a good effort because he had been working very well. We have learned a lot about him after just three runs for us last season.
“Gladiator King has also run a very big race so we can only be delighted with the whole race.”

The main support race, the 1400m UAE 1000 Guineas Trial for 3yo fillies, provided the exciting Shahama the perfect opportunity to defend he unbeaten record, something that only ever looked in doubt, briefly, when short of racing room early in the straight.

Once extricated from traffic by Adrie de Vries, the daughter of Munnings quickened in taking fashion and was soon in control, an effort pretty reminiscent of her breathtaking winning debut, over the same course and distance, three weeks ago.

Trained by Fawzi Nass for KHK Racing, she was an expensive purchase by her trainer in April at Ocala when he signed the docket at $425,000. She has certainly done nothing wrong in two racecourse appearances and the 1600m of the UAE 1000 Guineas is likely to suit her.

De Vries said: “She is a lovely filly and we have always really liked her. She won well first time but improved from that and, in fairness to her, it was her raw talent that won this tonight because we were struggling for room momentarily.
“She has a big, long stride and is going to better over further. She will have learned even more this time and the extra experience will hold her in good stead.”

The Al Jaddaf Mile, a 1600m conditions contest for 3yos originally scheduled for the turf but switched to dirt after persistent rain, was contested by just six of the original nine declarations and Conglomerate found it the perfect opportunity to shed his maiden tag at the fourth attempt.

A Central Banker colt, he had shown promise on his three previous outings, all this season, twice at Meydan most recently at Jebel Ali just last Friday, but left those efforts behind with a relatively smooth victory under Tadhg O’Shea. Owned by Mohammed Khaleel Ahmed, he is trained by Bhupat Seemar.

O’Shea said: “That probably was not a bad little race so we have to be pleased. We at least knew he would be ok on the dirt so that was definitely in our favour and things worked out well.”

Also moved from the turf, a 2000m conditions race, the Nad Al Sheba Classic, was contested in heavy rain and dominated by Godolphin, Desert Peace denying the same owner’s Big Team who looked a forlorn hope early on before finishing off the race strongly.

Sent straight to the front by William Buick, riding for Charlie Appleby, the 5yo gelded son of Curlin was harried by Irish Freedom, who finished third, throughout the majority of the race before the latter cried enough early in the straight.

At that point it appeared Buick’s mount would win easily but Big Team and Pat Cosgrave made relentless progress over the final 300m without ever really looking likely to make up the requisite ground for Saeed bin Suroor.

The meeting kicked off with a pair of 1400m Purebred Arabian maidens, the first of which which developed into a duel throughout the duration of the straight with Al Khaleejy and JAP Hadad locked in battle, the lead seemingly changing hands on several occasions, before the former stamped her dominance on matters in the final 50m.

Thrice raced in Britain by her breeders, Shadwell, the 4yo filly was making her dirt debut and first since being purchased by Naser Askar and sent to Helal Alalawi.

Previously twice runner-up, she showed an admirable attitude here and responded to the urgings of Omani apprentice Abdul Aziz Al Balushi in determined fashion.

Alalawi said: “We think she is better than this level because her UK form was good and she had been working well at home. I think we will be looking to step her up to 1600m and she, we think, is a very nice filly.”

The second division was not totally dissimilar in that only two horses held any realistic winning opportunities entering the final 400m with Baahya and Fakhr the only pair in serious contention.

It was the latter, responding gamely to Antonio Fresu, who gained the day for Ibrahim Al Hadhrami and the Omani Royal Cavalry, the homebred 5yo entire opening his account at the eighth attempt.

Having saddled their first Meydan winner, the trainer’s son, Alwarith Al Hadhrami said: “We have had many seconds here but that is great to get a first finally at Meydan.
“This is a nice horse who we have taken a while to lose that maiden tag with. Hopefully now he can progress.”